With the AFL’s sights set on going international, now is the perfect time for the A-League and professional football to take centre stage in our national consciousness.
While it received lavish media praise, playing an AFL game in China is nothing more than a gimmick which will barely cause a drop of awareness, despite the amount of work it took to make it happen.
With the NRL mired in controversy every other week, football must strike while the iron is hot and build a respected national brand that includes all Australians.
The A-League has just come off hosting a thrilling grand final and a season with impressive viewing numbers that are only set to increase as we lead into a World Cup year in 2018. The ways that we can capitalise are as follows:
Convert football fans into A-League fans
This has stumped our game for quite a while, in that how do we turn the amount of people who like our sport into fans of our league?
One simple way is through price points. Why can’t A-League tickets be the cheapest tickets going around? What is better: a stadium barely full at $50 entry, or a loud, full, colourful stadium at $15 a pop? Surely stadium owners must see that having a full stadium looks better on TV which, in turn, will drive people to want to go and see live football, which can’t be beat for fan engagement.
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Some football fans don’t follow the A-League at the moment because there is no team they feel represents them. Expanding the league and allowing teams of different shapes and sizes will allow more fans to experience professional football.
As for the so called ‘Euro snobs’ all we can really do is be patient and allow teams the freedom to become as big as they can. Being consistently successful in Asia will allow one of our current clubs to become a ‘super club’ that rivals Manchester United or Real Madrid in terms of popularity and prestige.
Some people point to having a free-to-air deal as a must have. After all, both the AFL and NRL snagged billion-dollar-plus deals. After reading about the troubles Channel Ten is having, I’m not so sure football should be going down such a traditional route.
Should we lead the pack by seeking a deal with a streaming company, or follow the pack by trying to cut a deal with one of the traditional TV channels?
All in all, it’s exciting to follow a code that has the most potential to grow in this country.
I do find it funny that people complain about only getting 40,000 to a grand final – imagine if the old NSL could hear us now! I wonder ten years from now how we will look back at this era.